The Social Media Goldmine for Nonprofits
Social media marketing. These three words bring about different reactions from nonprofit marketers and fundraisers every day. Exciting. Complicated. Successful. Confusing. Opportunity. Overwhelming. Fast-paced. Reach. All of these are true—and social media marketing is further complicated by the fact that new social media channels seem to pop up every day.
What is clear is that social media and social networking represent some of the most predominant changes to the marketing landscape for nonprofits. One-quarter of the world’s population uses social media. But, what is perhaps more important than the sheer volume of people engaging through social media is the way nonprofit brands can use these unique channels. Nonprofits are master storytellers. Social media channels allow those stories to come to life and be visualized, shared, and felt more emotionally than any other marketing opportunity.
Quality, not quantity
As of March 2015, Statista reported there were 18 different channels that fall into the category of social media. While consumers are spread out across these channels, the trick for nonprofits is to determine where their constituents are spending the majority of their social media time, and to prioritize those channels. Not all channels are created equal, and certainly there are obvious focus areas due to sheer size. And don’t forget: Messenger apps also are considered social media channels—and after Facebook at 1.4 billion active users, messenger apps hold the next five positions based on volume of active users.
In other words, nonprofit marketers should not focus on the active-user numbers. They should focus on assessing the primary channels (non-messenger) to determine where they can most successfully engage consumers. Remember, even though Instagram and Twitter occupy the 10th and 12th positions based on volume, they still represent 300 million users and 288 million users, respectively—definitely not small numbers. And don’t forget about the 3.25 billion hours of videos watched on YouTube each month. In fact, Hubspot indicates that photos and videos far outrank text and links when it comes to creating likes and engagement. (See more statistics in the sidebar.)
Doing what’s necessary
To maximize these channels, nonprofits must commit to using them correctly:
- Understanding why people use social media is critical. According to Global WebIndex, 55 percent of Internet users use social media to stay in touch with their friends. Why is this important? Your goal is to create a dynamic where your followers will share your stories and opportunities. Consumers are not going to social media for the advertisements, and in general, they don’t want those advertisements. Your followers need to be your advertisers whenever possible.
- Nonprofits must not view social media as an inexpensive marketing opportunity. Yes, it is cheaper than some other direct channels, but a major challenge reported by marketers is the lack of content and resources. Organizations must secure both financial and staff resources to create the relevant, current and appropriate copy for at least the four primary channels: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. With best practices calling for nonprofits to post differently for each channel and post multiple times per week, organizations need to have the right storytellers available.
- Similar to what nonprofits have heard about off-line channels—integration is key. When digital marketing hit the scene with email, the thought-leaders promoted integration with phone marketing and mail marketing. Yet, it was always pointed out that you can’t just take copy from the mail and turn it into an email. The same goes for social media channels. Posting to Facebook requires a different message than posting to Instagram—even if you are using photos in both places. Don’t get caught in the linking trap where a single click places the same message on the various channels. Consumers use different social media channels for different reasons and nonprofits need to customize to those levels of expectation.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.